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there any industry that is likely to earn a profit during the economic downturn? The answer is automation. As corporate majors try to increase productivity, one way they are likely to achieve this is through automation. Flexibility and efficiency are going to be the differentiators in order to quickly develop and manufacture an increasing number of products to meet the rapidly changing demands of the market. Moreover, with growing competition, “timing and speed are going to be vital for survival and success of the future organisation. No organisation in today‟s age can survive without agility and responsiveness to changing environments. Systemic efficiencies can only be brought in and improved through automation. With companies becoming more and more complex and dispersed, there is need for efficient manpower,” says Sumit Paul, general manager industrial, Rockwell Automation India.
While employees of many global companies are bombarded by inflation and job worries, the employees in the automation industry of India by and large continue to enjoy rising salaries and strong demands for their services. Automation plays an increasingly important role in the global economy and in daily experience. Engineers strive to combine automated devices with mathematical and organisational tools to create complex systems for a rapidly expanding range of applications and human activities. India‟s manufacturing sector, which is spurring the country‟s gross domestic p roduct (GDP) growth, is undergoing a major transformation. It is scaling up and beginning to seek global competitiveness through the wider application of automation and IT (information technology). This trend is contributing to the robust growth of the automation industry. “Automation is a well-established technology, both in the manufacturing sector and
And if you grab an international opportunity. a fresh engineering passout may start at Rs 300. such as project engineering. whereas in countries like India and China. Even in this time of economic downturn.000 professionals today. only 25 per cent of the 600. The main metric is grip on control.” said Anup Wadhwa. Money matters Speaking of salary prospects.000 to Rs 200. it is growing at more than 30 per cent. there is automation. It may be a human gene analysis laboratory or a locomotive workshop. instrumentation and maintenance related solutions will be automatically on your fingertips. And if you consider technology.000 per annum. Automation Industry Association. salaries are proportional to the cost of the projects. Science and engineering graduates having an aptitude for machine control will find space for a fulfilling professional career here. director. The industry employs almost 50. In most cases. The automation field is specifically suitable for engineering professionals with multidisciplinary as well as project management interests. If you can achieve these.000 to Rs 1 million per annum for professionals with five to seven years of experience. project management. integration and servicing. Since the automation industry comprises fairly large and mature companies with highly . By transferring global quality learning processes. Exciting and technically satisfying careers can be pursued in the field of technical marketing. you need to have expertise to survive in the global-quality working environment of automation. Notably.000 available engineering graduates are ready to be deployed in this industry and efforts to increase the figure need to be made. the minimum salary may be in the range of Rs 2 million per annum within just about five years. The five-year forecast shows healthy trends and the industry will be requiring more technical graduates— both from polytechnics and engineering colleges —to join the industry. the automation industry is offering a salary in the range of Rs 500. I must say. the scene is not so encouraging for diploma holders as their starting salary usually ranges from Rs 150. India‟s hope of emerging as an economic superpower depends a lot on how we groom our engineers to leverage this technology. And as a professional you are expected to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to design practical control loop as per that metric. The automation industry is growing 6-8 per cent globally. To make maximum use of the situation. we can convert a much larger percentage of the emerging manpower into more enriching careers. the salary is on the higher side for design section. However. “This demand will be at least double in the next three years. Groom for automation Now that you have received enough boosters about the opportunities to be grabbed in the automation field.infrastructure. it‟s time to explore the power circuit .” adds Wadhwa.000 per annum.000-Rs 400. wherever there is a need for process control to increase productivity. design engineering. According to Wadhwa. You could start at a junior level as part of a major project and grow to become a project leader in 10-12 years‟ time frame.
While mechanisation provided human operators with machinery to assist them in the physical requirements of their work. These days. these moving parts are subjected to wear and tear over time and that causes the response of the process to be somewhat different with time. product management. The skill requirements are vast and there is room for professionals for product design and development. Because of the technology-driven nature of this field. to control industrial machinery and processes.technical processes. recruiters are looking for such competencies as interpersonal skills and drive for end results down the ranks. automation is a step beyond mechanisation. In additional to technical skills. How to control the control loop? Keep in mind that automation is the use of control systems (such as numerical control. like final control elements. these use processors to calculate the output based on the measured values. Both types of controllers have their respective pros and cons. a controller and a final control element. digital controllers are not continuous. Next. 80 to 90 per cent of the controllers used in India are still PID controllers. Understand the controllers from both the theoretical and practical point of view. Forget the analogue versus digital controversy. With regards to industrialisation. the controllers can do a lot more. programmable logic control and other industrial control systems). they are not susceptible to wear and tear with time. professionals must at all times keep themselves abreast of the latest improvements and technological upgradations that are taking place. controllers were usually single-loop proportional-integralderivative (PID) controllers. automation greatly reduces the human sensory and mental requirements. Automation is a very technical field and therefore domain expertise and knowledge of processes is very important. These were used to execute PID control functions. Don‟t get nervous. marketing and sales. It refers to a wide range of hardware and software products and protocols used to communicate between standard computer platforms (PC. this reflects on the manpower needs as well. Digital controllers do not have mechanical moving parts. sales. project engineering. Instead. Analogue controllers are based on mechanical parts that cause changes to the process via the final control element. Again. electrical. however. along with other applications of information technology (such as computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing). Before the advent of computers. thereby reducing the need for human intervention. Since they do not have moving parts. You are not expected to know everything but your learn-ability levels should be high as a lot of training would essentially take place on the job. let me share some basics of automation beyond programmable logic control (PLC) and SCADA. Macintosh or workstation) and devices used in industrial automation applications such as controllers. But analogue controllers control continuously. However. . instead of narrowly focusing on their departmental concerns. Professionals who have a superior understanding of electronics. A simple process control loop consists of three elements: a measurement system. instrumentation. mechanical and robotics engineering are required among others.
Additionally. Originally based on Microsoft‟s OLE COM (component object model) and DCOM (distributed component object model) technologies. you need to know the current and emerging OPC specifications and their applicability. technical reliability is assured. So try to get a clear idea about the instrumentation part of the control valve . Final control elements can refer to three things: control valves. it is growing at more than 30 per cent The issues relating to final control elements are most relevant to control valves. distributed control systems and other control devices to human machine interface and other display clients. which means telling the value of a parameter without actually measuring it physically. the final control element is the control valve. It was quickly realised that communicating other types of data could benefit from standardisation. With the advent of computers. It should. So standards for alarms and events. whereas in countries like india and China. It leverages earlier versions while improving the browsing capabilities and incorporating XML-DA . The automation industry is growing 6-8 per cent globally. the specification defined a standard set of objects. controller decisions are based on measurements of process parameters. more often than not. historical data and batch data were launched. be remembered that inferential measurement algorithms are also based on physical measurements. Try to realise the practical utilities of the standardisations—the user‟s project cycle is shorter using standardised software components and their cost is lower. interfaces and methods for use in process control and manufacturing automation applications to facilitate interoperability. however. in turn. variable-speed drives and dampers. it is now possible to do inferential measurements.‟ It is a series of standards‟ specifications. The original specification standardised the acquisition of process data. upon computer industry standards. In process plants. learn to use OPC—„OLE (object linking and embedding technology) for process control. The original OPC Data Access used to move real-time data from PLCs. In the context of process control. they have made measurements all the more important. rather than rendering measurements redundant. These benefits are real and tangible. The Data Access 3 specification is now a Release Candidate.The next thing you need to know is the measurement system. Because the OPC standards are based. The first standard—originally called the OPC specification and now the Data Access specification —resulted from the collaboration of a number of leading worldwide automation suppliers working in cooperation with Microsoft. How to standardise the control? For starters. Therefore. although these are applicable to a large extent to dampers and in some cases variable-speed drives as well.
OPC Alarms & Events provides alarm and event notifications on demand (in contrast to the continuous data flow of Data Access). pressure transducers.Schema. PLCs and remote terminal units communicate with each other digitally. OPC Historical Data Access provides access to data already stored. Moreover. operator actions. Client-to-server and server-toserver communication across Ethernet fieldbus networks is facilitated by OPC Data exchange. while the absence of a signal might represent „open‟ or „normal.‟ But keep in mind. however. With analogue devices. switches. The multidrop capability of a FieldBus results in the most immediate cost savings for users. For example. most end devices (valves. historical archives can be retrieved in a uniform manner. In two-way communications. The ultimate solution. a separate cable needs to be run between the end device and the control system because only a single analogue signal can be represented on the circuit. It provides interfaces for the exchange of equipment capabilities (corresponding to the S88. an analogue value of 4 mA might correspond to a pressure of no flow. informational messages and tracking/ auditing messages. the 4-20mA standard will be replaced with a digital. For example. These include process alarms. etc) still use analogue signals. From a simple serial data logging system to a complex SCADA system. all standardisations ensure secured mode of operation —OPC Security specifies how to control client access to servers in order to protect this sensitive information and to guard against unauthorised modification of process parameters. while a value of 20 mA might correspond to a 1000GPM flow value. Modern distributed systems partially solve this problem by locating remote multiplexing devices out in the field. diagnostic and monitoring/management services. With discrete devices. How to communicate for better control? Although computers. the calibration constants associated with a particular sensor can now be stored directly in the device itself and changed as needed. a value can not only be read from the end device but also be written to the device. in the future. multidrop commu-nication—FieldBus. It provides multi-vendor interoperability. the presence of a signal might represent a „closed‟ or „alarm‟ condition. Although this . You need to know the reason behind that. twoway. All these commands allow the users to identify. OPC Batch specification carries the OPC philosophy to the specialised needs of batch processes. send and monitor control commands which execute on a device. is to be able to connect a reasonable number of sensors all located in the same area to the same cable.01 physical model) and current operating conditions. It also adds remote configuration.
implementation studies. the proliferation of so-called advanced control methodologies can only be attributed to the advances made in the electronics industry. Realise the actual logic behind the control systems. you should be prepared to accept this tectonic shift in technology. to detect whether the process observed is under control. The main idea of MPC is to choose the control action by repeatedly solving online an optimal control problem. Nowadays. advanced process control meant any algorithm or strategy that deviated from the classical three-term PID controller. variance and others. the benefits that its applications will bring and projections of future trends. Indeed. advanced control is synonymous with the implementation of computer-based technologies. multivariable constrained control problems. Model predictive control (MPC) is widely adopted in the process industry as an effective means to deal with large. The advent of computers offered more convenient alternatives—feed forward control. Also.will not happen overnight. decision theory and artificial intelligence to hardware and software engineering. You should regard advanced control as more than just the use of a multiprocessor computers or stateof-the-art software environments. statistics. cost savings ranging from 2 to 6 per cent of the operating cost are observed with the implementation of advanced controls. hence allowing plants to be operated closer to their designed capacity. which draws upon elements from many disciplines ranging from control engineering. product quality. Initially. Usually. statistical process control is a method for achieving quality control in manufacturing processes. especially in the development of low-cost digital computational devices (circa 1970). multivariable control and optimal process control. energy consumption. environmental emissions. process safety. It is a set of methods using statistical tools such as mean. try to understand the impact of advanced process control on product yield. Know advanced processcontrol To get an edge over your competitors. These benefits are clearly significant and achieved by increasing process efficiency. For example. it is always advisable to learn advanced process control with respect to the underlying theory. Knowledge of different controlling algorithms is always nice to have. etc. The algorithms of control Remember that control systems run according to the logical flow of the operating program. possibly subject to constraints on the manipulated inputs and outputs. It describes a practice. Neither does it refer to the singular use of sophisticated control algorithms. where the future behaviour is computed . signal processing. This aims at minimising a performance criterion over a future horizon.
If you feel that you lag behind due to lack of practical exposure. many other model-based control strategies that have dead-time compensation properties. These are useful for predictive constrained control. So before choosing a course. PID-type controllers do not perform well when applied to systems with significant timedelay. Dynamic matrix control is also a popular model-based control algorithm. Most processes require monitoring of more than one variable. however. The final bend It is possible that your awareness about most of the aforementioned terms is from a notional perspective only. The process model is stored in a matrix of step or impulse response coefficients. Nearly all of Indian institutes are woefully lagging in terms of providing students with such opportunities. Controller-loop interaction exists in such a way that the action of one controller affects other loops in a multiloop system. You can get a holistic overview of „chip to ship‟ of a control loop onl y after completing a project. a strategically chosen course may be the solution. Predictive controllers can also be embedded within an adaptive framework. tuning each loop for maximum performance may result in system instability when operating in a closed-loop mode. Currently. Utilise your industrial training or final -year project to your advantage. Loops that have single-input single-output (SISO) controllers may therefore not be suitable for these types of applications. There are. judge the reputation of the institute. the certification system. I emphasise the word „strategically‟ because that is what decides whether you will get the job passport or your money will go down the drain. the industry accreditation and also the course curriculum. Perhaps the best known technique for controlling systems with large time-delays is the Smith Predictor. Try to understand how a model-based controller can be modified to accommodate multivariable systems.according to a model of the plant. some commercial controllers have Smith Predictors as programmable blocks. This model is used in parallel with the online process in order to predict future output values based on the past inputs and current measurements. Don‟t worry. These types of controllers are not designed to handle the effects of loop interactions. Depending upon the inter-relationship of the process variables. It overcomes the debilitating problems of delayed feedback by using predicted future states of the output for control. .
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